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Enhancing the quality of life for all Queensland communities

Andrew Johnson

SWQ Branch President

Director Operations, CEO Designate, Somerset Regional Council

SWQ Branch committee

Andrew Johnson (Branch President)


Somerset Regional Council

Dereck Sanderson (Vice President)

District Director, Darling Downs

Department of Transport and Main Roads

Maddy Stahlhut (Ambassador)

Civil Engineer

GHD Pty Ltd

Cameron Ives

Professional Engineer

GenEng Solutions Pty Ltd

Shelley Burchett

Assets Manager

Proterra Group Pty Ltd

Seren McKenzie

Director Infrastructure Services

Southern Downs Regional Council

Luke Tanner

Manager Works

Goondiwindi Regional Council


SWQ Branch Presidents Report
September 2020

Council elections are now behind us however the new class of 2020 now finds itself grappling with the unprecedented challenges of a pandemic. During their induction and beyond, council staff have worked (and continue to work) to embed the new systems required for a changed world. I would like to recognise the critical role of public works professionals during this period. We are aware that rural and regional engineers are not only highly adaptable but also agile in finding new ways to deliver services in a COVID-19-friendly manner. I don’t need to look far for examples – since March, workers have travelled to and from work safely and apart, they have modified work practices, developed methods for plant selection, streamlined safety systems using technology, developed a delivery toolbox while spaced apart, and learnt to be prepared if a worker turns up to a site unwell (all are now well versed in the correct actions to take).

Now that we are into September, council budgets and operational plans have been adopted. The challenges of COVID-19 have impacted community expectations for assistance programs, with even a 50 per cent reduction in rates perceived to be too high. This has added to pressures on the Council budget, and many will be feeling the pinch, particularly in operational budgets. I have seen visible anxiety in council staff as a result of these sorts of COVID pressures as fiscal demands remain stable with often declining revenues.

Many councils have received additional COVID-19 stimulus funding from the federal and state governments which will see an increase in capital projects. This means that we will remain extremely busy for the foreseeable future. The majority of funding must be expended by 30 June 2021 so I might safely predict a super busy, challenging and rewarding time ahead.

Under these demands it is important that engineers take time out and maintain their professional commitments in their CPD hours. It is as important as any other professional demands that, during frenetic periods, we keep our people highly skilled and empowered.

Looking ahead to next year, I confirm the venue and dates for the next SWQ Branch conference will be Chinchilla, 18-19 March 2020.

In the meantime, keep your social distance and be sure to do your utmost to protect our community’s most vulnerable individuals.

Andrew Johnson
SWQ Branch President